Dane Shikman: 2016 Best and Brightest

by Jeff Schmitt on

Dane Shikman

Dane Shikman

The George Washington University Law School

Hometown: San Francisco, CA

Undergraduate School: Georgetown University, School of Foreign Service

Major/Minor: International Politics, Foreign Policy & Policy Processes

Extracurricular Activities, Community Work and Leadership Roles During Law School:

  1. Editor-in-Chief, The George Washington Law Review (Volume 84)
  2. Moot Court
    1. National Champion, National Moot Court Competition
    2. First Place, 1L Moot Court Competition
  3. Dean’s Fellow (teaching assistant in the Legal Research and Writing program)
  4. Member, A Capella Group
  5. Treasurer, Phi Delta Phi, National Legal Honors Society

Where have you interned during law school:

  1. Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP, Washington DC (Summer 2015)
  2. Congressional Quarterly, Supreme Court Yearbook, Washington DC (Term of 2014–15)—attending oral arguments and summarizing opinions for publication.
  3. S. Dep’t of Justice, Civil Division, Fraud Section, Washington, DC (Fall 2014)
  4. NYC Law Department, Affirmative Litigation (Summer 2014)

What practice area will you be specializing in after graduation: I will be clerking in Denver for Judge Ebel on the Tenth Circuit after graduation—but after that I hope to specialize in appellate litigation.

What was your favorite law school class and why: Constitutional Law and the Supreme Court (Thomas Colby, instructor). In this small seminar class, we role-played as the Court on a weekly basis, debating the merits of cases being heard concurrently by the actual Court. I relished the opportunity to pore over the briefs, parse through the cases, and argue with my fellow students about the right answer. It was particularly exciting to watch how the Court took on the same cases and compare its approach with our own.

Which attorney do you most admire:Seth Waxman. He is widely regarded as one of the top appellate advocates in the country. More importantly perhaps, he is a very active pro bono lawyer, advocating for people and causes not because they are well-funded but because it is what’s right. I’ve watched him argue several cases already, and I will continue to try and emulate his style and passion for justice as I pursue a career in appellate advocacy.

What have you enjoyed most about law school: Learning about the world through the lens of the law. I have always been an inquisitive student, but I never expected I would enjoy so much diving into these thick textbooks and trying to figure out what’s right in a given scenario, or what a particular rule would mean for the community, or who should win in some obscure contract dispute. I really do love it, though, because it is intellectually stimulating and exposes me to issues in the world I would have never otherwise considered. Yesterday, for example, I spent half the day reading and thinking about state laws requiring public sector workers to pay a union money for collective-bargaining expenses even though the workers are nonmembers and object to the union’s activities. Does that violate the First Amendment’s protection against compelled speech? I don’t know. But it’s fascinating, and I would have never got the chance to learn about unions had I not encountered the issue.

What word best describes your professional brand and why? Initiative. If there is anything consistent about my approach to work it is that I resist the status quo and I aggressively push to innovate and improve.  In my role as Editor-in-Chief of the Law Review I think I’ve demonstrated that tendency.  Rght when the team was selected, I held meetings to develop areas for improvement and settle on action plans for execution. Already, we have dramatically changed our online presence, built a brand new Supreme Court response platform that is now being cited by other sites nationally, redesigned and rebooted an online companion journal, dramatically improved our file storage and access processes, hosted new events, and changed the people-culture such that the Law Review is more of a community, rather than merely a publication machine. I believe my initiative played a role in these changes.

If you were debt free, how would you spend your first paycheck after landing your first law job? I would buy an engagement ring.

“I knew I wanted to go to law school when . . .when I heard my dad talk about his cases while I sat as a little boy in the back seat of his car.” My dad is a criminal defense lawyer representing indigent clients in San Francisco. I remember vividly talking with him for years about his clients and brainstorming legal theories and asking probing questions about the law. From then on, I had law school on the radar.”

“If I didn’t go to law school, I would be . . . a Foreign Service Officer. In college I became enamored with foreign policy, researching and writing and interning in the field of international relations.  After working at the State Department, I even set my track for the Foreign Service, which is the U.S. diplomatic corps. I ultimately was dissuaded from that course because of the highly unconventional lifestyle that FSOs have—living their lives in two-year increments all around the world without the ability to settle down. I’m very glad I chose law school, but if I weren’t here, I’d hopefully be on an adventure somewhere in South America or Asia right now as a consular officer working in a U.S. embassy or consulate.

Which academic or personal achievement are you most proud of? Winning the National Moot Court championship. Preparing for and ultimately winning the national championship earlier this year was a defining part of my law school experience. My partner and I spent countless hours writing, researching, and mooting our way to beat out over 180 teams from nationwide schools—it was an incredible feeling to see all our hard work come to fruition. And I learned so much as an advocate in the process.

Fun fact about yourself: I just got a puppy named after Abraham Lincoln.

Favorite book: Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela (autobiography).

Favorite movie: Shawshank Redemption

What are your hobbies: Competitive chess.  Playing piano.  Dancing freestyle and bhangra.

What made Dane such an invaluable addition to the Class of 2016?

“Dane has been a superstar student both inside and outside the classroom yet has remained modest and humble, maintaining his warm and engaging personality amidst numerous honors and recognitions.

Dane has had great success in Moot Court and is a formidable opponent, but wonderful mentor in this arena.  As a 1L, he won the First Year Moot Court competition and was named best oralist in a competition that involved more than 400 participants.  As a 2L, he won the National Moot Court Competition, which is widely viewed as the most prestigious moot court in the country.  He and his moot court partner emerged victorious among 189 teams and were the only team to remain undefeated throughout the competition. As a 3L, he made it to the semi-finals of the Van Vleck Moot Court Competition, one of 8 teams remaining in a pool of more than 45.

Dane was elected Editor-in-Chief of the GW Law Review for his 3L year and has demonstrated extraordinary and exemplary leadership in that role this year.  He shepherded the Law Review through the launch of a new website, including a new section, “On the Docket,” which discusses recent Supreme Court decisions.  In its virgin year, the e-publication has been cited or mentioned several times by the very popular and prestigious SCOTUSblog.com.  As a 3L, Dane has continued his leadership and mentoring roles as a Dean’s Fellow in the Legal Research and Writing Program.  While most students elected to be Editor-in-Chief of the GW Law Review and other journals decline to participate in the LRW program as 3Ls given their already-packed schedules, Dane made being a Dean’s Fellow a priority as well.  He sets an extremely high bar not only for himself, but for everyone that will succeed him in difficult-to-fill shoes.

Christy Hallam DeSanctis
Professor of Legal Research and Writing and Director of the Legal Research and Writing Program
The George Washington University Law School

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